Dispatch Three: Feb 17 2011

Mission Station Geita, Christ the King Church
Mission Station, Mwamza, Nyakatto Bible College

Song sung before a class in Mwanza:

Ndiyo Dhamana, Yesu Wangu

Ndiyo dhamana, Yesu wangu, Hunipa furaha za Mbingu;
Mrithi wa wokovu wake Nimezawa kwa Roho yake.

Habari njema, raha yangu, Yesu ndiye Mwokozi wangu,
Habari njema, raha yangu, Yesu ndiye Mwokozi wangu.

 

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Saturday night, Fr Francis checked in with Nathan.  Voice answered & Fr Francis responded.  Then he realized that it wasn’t Nathan.  He stopped and said – “let me start over again – Bishop, how may I help you?!”  Bp Kwangu was visiting Nathan and they played a good joke on Fr Francis! They laughed very hard.

Sunday, Feb 13, Nathan preached at the installation of his translator, Rev Danson, as pastor of the local church.  The Bishop presided there and food was shared after the liturgy.  Pastor Danson’s wife teaches at a school on an island in Lake Victoria.  She leaves early Monday morning, takes a three hour ferry to the island, and teaches and stays there until Friday evening, when she returns home.

Pastor Danson is a good translator for Nathan.  He has a church education so he knows the proper Swahili for the ideas and things of church.  He is young and energetic and connects well with Nathan.  They work well together.

Fr Francis was not scheduled to preach that Sunday, but received call early Sunday morning, Pastor Mathias could not be at church for 10 AM service – could Fr Francis lead the service with a lay reader and could he preach – service was morning prayer in Swahili.  Yes, he could.

It was an exciting experience – he was the priest for a congregation of 350-400 people, choir of 50 people who sang and danced and praised God, sent around 75 children out to Sunday School, preached, prayed forgiveness after confession, blessed the offerings, and prayed the blessing at the end of the service.  Preached on Luke 15: 11-35, There was a man who had two sons.  Africanized the story.   They loved it!  Especially when he described the man who raised pigs, who hired the wayward son, as a mzungu (white man)!  Service was good, for them and for him.  The lay reader, one of his students, did most of the Swahili parts, Fr Francis did the priestly things.

After the service, the church takes the food that was donated as part of the tithes and offerings, and auctions it off for money.  Some of the bidding was “for the preacher” meaning that the food would be purchased and then go to the preacher!  Fr Francis got maize (corn), makate (bread), and embe (mango).

The song listed above is  the Swahili version of “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”  Words in Swahili, melody the same as ours.

Sunday afternoon, Fr Francis had to produce Class Attendance certificates for the Geita students group so he went to  his translator’s family’s copy shop, and prepared the certificate for the students – for approval by the pastor.  He used his flash drive on the African computer, and caught a virus on the flash drive!  Ugh!!!  When he returned to his room, the he scanned the flash drive with his anti-virus software from his computer – it killed 27 viruses!!!  He reformatted the flash drive and then did a full scan of his whole computer.  All okay at this stage.

Monday, both Fr Francis and Nathan started the same lesson plan, Fundamentals of Sacred Scripture.

Students in Geita absorbed the material like a sponge does water- challenged at every turn – meeting the challenge at every turn.  They applauded God many times during the first day of classes on Scripture.

Brother Nathan is teaching the same lesson to his students and experiencing the same responses.  A few of his students never made it to class Monday because there was a strike by transportation workers in Mwanza and traffic was snarled through the city.

There is an element to day to day work in teaching for several consecutive weeks.  It is not the exciting work of saving souls at crusades and filling stadiums for worship services, but teaching those who do go evangelize and do teach the people of God and do lead parishes, to do it better.   The work is good.  The legacy is long term.  Improved ministry in Kenya has demonstrated that legacy.  The student who became a bishop in Kenya has demonstrated that legacy.  It will be the same in Tanzania.  In both Mwanza and Geita, there were good teaching days, day after day after day.

Our students are bonding with their teachers.  Mangoes and bananas are finding their way to our desk.  As the teacher arrives in the morning, the students wait to greet them and then carry their bags.  We are called “mwalimu” which means teacher, a very honored title in Tanzania as the first president of the land, Julius Nyerere, was called “mwalimu.”  There are secret conversations about a gift to the teacher.  The Bishop is coming to Geita for a big service on Sunday where the students will be given certificates if they passed the class.

Thursday in Geita, the church was hit with thunderstorms, lightning and torrential sheets of rain, making such a noise on the metal roof that class was stopped for over an hour.  The biggest difficulty occurred when the flock of goats running to escape the storm, poured through the sheltered front door of the church and scattered among the pew benches!  It took us a while to shoo them out of the church! Ah! Life in Africa!

Fr Francis and Brother Nathan are so grateful for the prayers and financial donations which sent us to teach here in Tanzania.  Our students are even more grateful and hope that teachers will come again in the future.

Asante sana!  (thank you very much)

Fr Francis and Brother Nathan Dunlap

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